Author Archives: Anonanonamous

Is a Twitter Revolution possible in America?

I was originally going to write my paper on this video, but I feel that it is very important to expose as many people as possible to the truth.

The topic of this video is government surveillance and, specifically, the regimes involved in the Arab Spring and US capabilities.

The speaker starts off talking about the current trends of US warrantless communication interceptions. Last year, 1.2 million intercepts (non-national security letters) were issued at the request of local police departments for phone dumps. In fact, the number of intercepts for Sprint alone was more than all the court ordered issues nationwide! He mentions that ISP’s (by name, Time Warner) log the IP addresses of wireless devices used behind wireless gateways to help police identify users, which is obviously not required by law. He says that the state uses software like Palentir to cross check multiple databases searching for “terrorists”. He also mentions Facebook monitoring chat logs looking for child predators.

He then turns to the Arab Spring. This is to build the argument that if this third world country can get their hands on these capabilities, just imagine what a country like the US can do. Libyan suppression capacities during their revolution included the ability to monitor all unencrypted traffic – email, IM, VoIP, web, deep packet inspection, cell phone triangulation and monitoring, and land line phone tapping gear. This essentially provided Ghadafi the capability to monitor nearly all traffic.

The US is very secretive in their capabilities – much of which is even kept secret from Congress. The NSA had most of Ghadafi’s abilities 20 years ago with the ECHELON system. CALEA has remote interception capability. Here, the speaker makes a very profound statement. He says that it is safe to assume all Internet traffic nationwide is being logged and analyzed, and that it is also safe to assume that all SSL’s and VPN’s are compromised.

He mentions the Utah Data Center a couple of times throughout the speech. Carrier logs are now available to even local police (anybody you dial or that calls you, including messaging). Apparently last week it came out that a police department can get a tower dump for only $75 from AT&T. Another alarming statistic that we’ve covered is that warrantless “emergency” intercepts are growing at a rate of 15% a year. One of the most interesting things – I thought – that he talked about was some new legislation in the US giving the state the ability to remotely interrupt cellphones, use a land line kill switch, and send threatening SMS messages to citizens!

At the end, he poses an excellent question: if you combined the McCarthy era with today’s surveillance tools and laws, what would be the result?

I think that question sums up his speech very nicely. In the past decade, we’ve seen fear used as a motivator so many times, we’ve seen blatant lying become the norm, we’ve all experienced news sources making up facts and figures and giving opinions rather than facts (yes, some more than others). The average citizen who doesn’t have the time or the care to look up facts will either refuse to believe anything they hear, or only listen to one news source because “every other one has a (liberal) bias!” The state that things have come to is rather despicable. People are unwilling to take back our country – at the very least by voting for people that would actually represent them – as we move closer and closer to a police state. How long did it take before the police “found” Ted Kaczynski? 17 years? How long did it take them to find the Boston Bombers? Two days? Obviously the government has these capabilities and in situations like what happened last week, it’s good that they do. But there’s definitely more going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about.

This isn’t a call to arms (at least, not from me), it’s just a public service announcement that our freedom is an illusion. Any thoughts on these privacy violations?


I’m rather surprised that no one else has written a post on the CISPA bill passed in the House of Representatives last week. So I guess I’ll take the easy one. CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, passed rather convincingly in the House (288 to 127) even after a surprising veto threat from the President. Essentially, the bill allows companies to share every piece of information they possess on clients with any other entity – to include the federal government. This effectively supersedes any Terms & Agreements contract made between clients and companies. Even so far as protecting the company from any sort of civil litigation. If you guys remember, a similar bill was struck down in the House last year after passing the Senate because the House didn’t feel like it was strong enough. Also, the SOPA bill from early last year never made it out of the House because of overwhelming opposition from the American people – a staggering 4,500,000 signatures. To put that number in perspective, the second highest signature count was for Texas to secede after the Presidential election at about 80,000. Here’s a link to a Huffington Post article that includes a video for further information.

So what’s being done in response and why is it that CISPA passed the House when SOPA never even made it to the vote? In response, Anonymous has proposed an Internet blackout on Monday. There is no word yet on which websites plan on doing so, but historically, numbers have been very good. They did something similar for SOPA and more than 7,000 websites, including Wikipedia, Reddit and Google participated. Why has CISPA “succeeded” where SOPA failed? Because majority of the opposition to CISPA are non-profits, whereas SOPA had major corporate backers. Obviously, in the corrupt government we have, money talks, not people. Well, considering corporations are now considered people, I should say that money talks louder, but I digress.

My question is: why in the hell does the government keep trying to censor the Internet in the face of overwhelming opposition?! I’m a strong supporter of freedom, and most especially in the freedoms afforded by the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech to which arguably the greatest conduit in history is the Internet. We’ve already seen our Fourth Amendment rights essentially eliminated (drones, warrantless wiretappings, the door-to-door search conducted by Boston Police to catch suspect 2 in the past week), our Second Amendment right being currently targeted, and our Sixth Amendment rights not even being acknowledged (in cases such as Bradley Manning, who has been sitting in Fort Leavenworth since 2010 and is just now receiving a trial). I just can’t fathom how these laws can supersede Constitutional Amendments, and furthermore, I can’t see how Congressmen are getting reelected when they support neither the Constitution, nor their constituents!

NATO Manual Makes Hackers Military Targets

So the first article on this manual that I saw can be found here. It states that lawyers, professors, and officers from NATO countries have gotten together to write the new rules of cyber warfare and that it is currently being review by NATO as to whether it should be adopted as policy. Curious, I searched for more articles on the manual, since it hasn’t been published and, on top of that, is over 200 pages long. I found a great article on RT News that described several of the details very well.

I found this line very troubling: “But while civilians cannot be lawfully targeted with such an attack, the experts write, persons unaligned to a military can still be considered fair game for assault — with cyber weapons or otherwise—if they pose a threat.” I may be jumping to conclusions here, but if hackers are now considered terrorists, then would this give the US government the ability to use drones to kill Americans? After all, the only excuse that the government seems to give on why we’re committing drone strikes in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, etc., is because they are terrorists.

Another issue to be addressed is, when is a person no longer considered militant? For example, say a hacktivist in the US was attacking the Tunisian government during the Gaddafi conflicts. After Gaddafi was killed and control of the control turned over to the rebels, the hacktivist quit his dubious hacking and got a job with some software company. How far into the future will NATO forces be able to kill/capture/whatever him? In the digital age it’s nearly impossible to traverse the Internet without leaving some digital footprints, so it’s not beyond feasibility to think that a person could be discovered years after the fact.

One final issue I have with this is that if NATO forces decide to adopt this position, our adversaries will be allowed to legally send drone attacks or whatever other means within our borders and kill our citizens. If the Chinese have evidence that a hacker from Omaha attacked a company that stole patented designs from his brother’s business, then manufactured the goods for less and essentially ruined the business (we’ve all heard the stories),then they would be justified and within the rules of war to fly a missile into the US and take out that hacker in Omaha. I feel like this manual is opening many, many more doors than it’s closing.
“An act of direct participation in hostilities by civilians renders them liable to be attacked, by cyber or other lawful means,” reads an excerpt from the manual.

Raytheon’s RIOT

I came across this article about two weeks ago (it surfaced when President Obama signed his secret executive order effectively enacting CISPA), but haven’t had time to post about it. It is certainly relevant to our current discussion topic of privacy – especially digital privacy. Essentially, this order “will allow for the voluntary sharing of Internet traffic between private companies and the government.” It allows the CAS, which Glenn just posted about. Accompanying this newly obtained governmental power is an algorithm designed by Raytheon, a defense contractor, that essentially can find out everything about a person – and it’s available to the public. I highly encourage everyone to view the video.

The software allows a user to track every checkin, photgraph, or whatever on a list of social media sites. It will compile a schedule of when/how often the person you’re searching for is at a certain place, allowing you to track their wherabouts pretty effectively. The demonstration in the video starts with just a name, getting all of the person’s – Nick’s – media sites, then finds all the locations that he’s been while connected to social media, and then finds photos of him. Very quickly, the demonstrator finds where Nick’s been and what he looks like. Then he begins to predict where Nick will be. The demonstrator finds that the best time to find Nick is a 6AM on Monday in the gym. Finally, he finds all of Nick’s associations. All the people he has communicated with on his social media sites as well as phone numbers of many of those people!

There are obvious privacy issues – not to mention constitutional legality issues – associated with this technology. I believe that the 4th Amendment entitles you to privacy from not only the government, but the general public. Being able to warrantlessly access the information RIOT does without any legal backing is extremely disturbing to me. Most of the privacy topics we have been discussing in class are dear to people – seemingly – because he or she is afraid of who is judging him or her. My biggest issue is that I don’t like people that I can’t see being able to obtain information about me when I don’t know who or even that they are in fact accessing my information! This tool just stiffens my paranoia that stuff like that actually happens for reasons beyond advertising…

U.S. Government Raises Penalties for Stealing Trade Secrets

An article came out today from a site called Mondaq that publishes news on laws – especially corporate ones. The article describes new, harsher, upgraded penalties for stealing trade secrets. The most notable of which are monetary. For an individual, fines were raised from $500,000 to $5,000,000, or fifteen years imprisonment! Corporate fines were raised from a $10,000,000 cap to up to three times the company-whose-trade-secrets-were-stolen’s worth. There was also an additional amendment that changes the former law from applying only to products a company sells, to now where even ideas and services are protected.

In my opinion, this law is another display of where the government’s real interests come from. I think that this is just another display of the fact that messing with people’s money is more heinous than violent crimes to our politicians. For instance, according to this site, the average sentence for a rape that went to trial (the higher side of the spectrum) was just under 25 years. The average of someone who plead out (the low side) was about 11 1/2 years. This is for rape – a traumatic, life altering experience that really doesn’t need a description from me to put it into perspective. But for stealing a trade secret, a person can sit in jail for 15 years and/or take a $5,000,000 fine. I find this beyond outrageous and utterly disgusting. How can someone, let alone the United States government, value money more than people’s lives? It is my unyielding position that violent crimes should face the harshest penalties possible because there is an actual victim who has to face years of life-altering consequences. Money is worthless and can always be replaced. I can see harsher penalties for companies that pull stuff like Enron did, or that cause another company to go completely bankrupt, but what that comes down to is that someone is going to have to go through the temporary displeasure of having to relocate and find a new job, or, the more miserable case of having to rebuild your life savings from scratch. I think that neither case is comparable to having to live the rest of your life without a parent because they were mugged and killed, or all the psychological issues that stem from being raped. Anyhow, maybe I’ve digressed a bit from the topic. Do you guys think that the punishments for stealing trade secrets should be raised? Any other thoughts on the issue?